Prioritizing Parenthood

That moment you realize you’ve already written the blog post you were just sitting down to write.


I have a tendency to focus very single-mindedly on whatever it is I’m occupied with in the moment.  That can be good or bad.  It’s good not to multitask, because multitasking is really just rapid-fire singletasking a number of things, poorly.  So it’s good to shut out distractions and focus on the one more important thing you need to do in the moment.  But hyperfocusing on one thing can be bad, because you can lose track of time and forget to shift to other, also important tasks.  It can also make you lose sight of the bigger picture:  how does this task serve your ultimate goal or overall purpose, whatever it is?  Do you even know what your goal or purpose is?  You may be hyperfocusing on the wrong task, after all.  And that means your efforts are being wasted somewhat, because even if there is massive value in completing the wrong task, you are missing out on the greater value of completing the right one.

I think ‘stay-at-home-moms’ (an increasingly outdated term) are very good at figuring out what the right tasks are at the right times, because they are very good at prioritizing.  Making the choice not to work in order to devote their attention to their children is a clear indication of their ability to prioritize.  They have decided to make their family the priority.  I’m not saying that family always needs to be the one priority, and that SAHMs are the only ones who recognize this.  I am just saying that, if you have made a deliberate decision to eschew gainful employment so that you can reroute your time and energy to raising children, you are deciding that your family is the priority.

I have a habit of missing the forest for the trees.  I’m in a job that requires me to perform a number of tasks that are constantly competing for first priority.  But the reality is this:  if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.  I was reading/listening to this book and learned that we only recently started referring to “priorities” in the plural form, as if you can have more than one priority at the same time.  That defeats the very definition of the word.  We never should have started referring to the “first priority” followed by the “second priority” and so on.  Everything after the so-called first priority is simply not a priority.

Or is it?  Sometimes we need to adapt language to fit our changing world.  I think all of the ‘working moms’ reading this (again, I am starting to hate these outdated categorizations) think of their children and their careers as equally important “priorities.”  Or this is where things get a bit more esoteric:  so maybe they are not two equal priorities, but more like two separate realms that are of equal importance but occupy their own spheres, such that it’s possible to “prioritize” both without conflict.  But see, I just typed that out and instantly recoiled at how disingenuous it sounds.  So that’s not right either.

So maybe the fact that I’m turning the issue of prioritizing family and work into a subject for debate and discourse (because that’s never happened before, naturally) is the real problem here.  Maybe it’s too abstract to pin down and assign value to one or the other in a categorical sense.  Maybe bloggers, pundits, institutes and activists need to back down on figuring this stuff out and just let things be.  Perhaps there is nothing to be gained by overthinking this one.

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